State, Local Governments Would Have to Pay for ".Us" Internet Domain Names under Proposal from Department of Commerce

By Wolf, Jared; Feld, Harold | Nation's Cities Weekly, July 23, 2001 | Go to article overview

State, Local Governments Would Have to Pay for ".Us" Internet Domain Names under Proposal from Department of Commerce


Wolf, Jared, Feld, Harold, Nation's Cities Weekly


The U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) is considering handing over the ".us" Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name to a private contractor who will charge a yearly usage fee for this now free service in an effort to generate revenue for the "digitally disadvantaged."

The proposal, which does not require Congressional approval, could impact the budgets of localities -- at present, the ".us" domain consists primarily of state and municipal entities, libraries and K-12 schools. Unlike ".com," ".org" and ".net" domains, ".us" and ".gov" domains are currently free to qualifying entities. This proposal only applies to those using the ".us" domain, such as Chicago and New York City.

The ".us" ccTLD is a unique national resource, a piece of cyberspace administered exclusively by and for the benefit of the United States, developed as a part of a cooperative agreement funded by the United States and maintained by the American taxpayer.

The Commerce Department has not decided on a fee, but it should be around $25 per year to start. Other domain names usually cost $35 per year. The department also has not said where the funds raised by the plan would go or how it would help the "digitally disadvantaged."

In August 2000, a subsidiary of the USDOC, the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) commenced a proceeding to dispose of the ".us" domain.

More than 20 non-profit organizations and academics submitted comments urging the NTIA to explicitly require that management of the ".us" benefit the American people. On February 1, 2001, a coalition of non-profits, stakeholders and academics from across the political spectrum submitted a letter requesting that NTIA conduct a separate proceeding on the public interest implications of management of ".us."

On May 30, 2001, NTIA rejected the request for any further deliberation on the public interest aspect of managing ". …

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